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So you’re leaving education – how can you get ahead with your career and life planning?


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As A-Level and degree results continue to roll in, hundreds of thousands of you are likely to be at a crossroads and planning the next chapter in your lives. Or maybe you’re enjoying summer.

It’s clearly a difficult – and stressful – time, especially if you’re transitioning into the world of work. But whether you’re choosing further education, an apprenticeship, starting a business or entering the workplace, here are some top tips from a range of experts to help you along the way.

Make a good first impression, be your best self - and stand out from the crowd

You’re unique. And your CV is your first chance to make an impression on a potential employer, so make sure it’s clear and current. Check out the National Careers Service for CV writing tips. During your time in education, you’ve probably achieved loads of great things that will help you stand out in a busy marketplace. Really take the time to think about these experiences and how you want to best present them.

There are plenty of ways to get ahead of your competition. Donna Browne, a Recruitment Manager at Boots, says: “When applying for a role, really get to know the company you’re applying for, not just the information on the website. Check out their values and what their employees and customers think of them. A great site to look at is Glassdoor; it’s a bit like TripAdvisor but for companies. Get involved with group projects or a part time job to gain confidence and skills. And be fabulous, because this is your time to showcase yourself.”

A first-time earner? Living away from home for the first time? Managing your money is an important skill

Earning a regular income for the first time after leaving education is quite exciting. However, it’s important to manage your money well and spend responsibly. If you need help in budgeting why not try the Money Advice Service? It’s a free and impartial service that offers tips, tools and calculators to help keep track of your well-earned money and to plan ahead. Support is also offered over the phone.

Make sure you have a workplace pension

While retirement may seem a distant prospect, starting a habit of long-term saving is essential.

So, if you’re new to the workplace, or even if you’re an older student with a part time job, you will most likely be eligible for a workplace pension.

Since 2012, pension saving has been transformed in this country thanks to automatic enrolment. It means that as long as you’re aged 22 or over and earning at least £10,000 a year, your employer is legally bound to enrol you onto a workplace pension.

In return for you paying in a minimum of 1% of your salary, your employer will match it. It’s one of the easiest ways to save for a financially secure retirement from day one, so ask your boss for more details.

Thanks to automatic enrolment more than 8.3 million people are saving, and as long as you meet the criteria, you can look forward to joining them!

Apprenticeships or internships are a great way to enter the workplace – but don’t be exploited

An apprenticeship is an increasingly popular route into the workplace and for good reason. Working for a company as an apprentice gives you the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience. This is something that businesses really value. And at the same time you’ll be earning a wage. They’re also open to all ages – whether you’ve just received your GCSE, A-Level or degree results.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds told The National Student: “Everyone from law firms to software companies are offering increasingly competitive apprenticeship routes that lead to highly rewarding careers.”

If you’re looking to build up your confidence and skills part-time volunteering and work placements are also available.

But remember your rights. An intern is entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they count as a worker. An intern is classed as a worker, and is due the National Minimum Wage if they’re promised a contract of future work.

Further advice is available to you by contacting the Acas helpline or using Acas Helpline Online.

Know where to look for work

Obviously most vacancies are advertised online and Universal Jobmatch is a great site for finding vacancies near you, with over 700,000 adverts at any one time. Alternatively, why not try professional social media platform LinkedIn?

Speaking to The National Student, Jason Ramtohul and Julius Amoah of Support for Schools said that research and preparation were the most vital things to help young people “source, obtain and sustain careers”.

However, like with internships make sure you’re wary of people trying to exploit you. Recruitment fraud is a serious, yet lesser-known crime that often goes unreported by jobseekers. However research shows that one in ten jobseekers have been a victim of a job scam.

The chairman of SAFERjobs, Keith Rosser, told the National Student that “Recruitment fraud is varied and affects people in different ways. It can be a fake job offer advising that the individual needs to pay for security checks, online training, visas or insurance, or a work-from-home scam conning people.”

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